Sunday, November 30, 2008

coconut's the key

With thanks to Jayne (Kansas City), the beautiful daughter of our
friend Ginger.

Sweet Potato Casserole

5 or 6 sweet potatoes
1/2 to 1 stick of butter
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 C Coconut
1 tsp vanilla

Boil potatoes till tender, drain, peel and cut into chunks, mash with butter then add all other ingredients.

Place into casserole dish.

1/2 stick butter
1 C brown sugar
1 C chopped pecans
Melt butter and stir in brown sugar. When it comes to a boil add nuts and pour over sweet potato mixture.

Bake for 1/2 hour at 350

Serves 6 (maybe 8)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

lame duck on black friday

It wasn't too bad yesterday inside the store, but Powell Street
was horrible and I was longing for the green trees and peace
of Golden Gate Park. I so hope this is my last year in real
downtown retail.

We did have someone faint and one of the odd things in our
big box is that customers always try to be helpful during
these all-too frequent occurrences. One guy was telling the
poor woman about all the seizures he has and I told him
to go away. One of my work friends and I discuss this
phenomena ~ hovering customers. Sometimes I have to
say, "unless you have a medical degree, please back-off".
The other thing I have learned is just to call the paramedics,
don't even ask the faller/fainter/seizure-ist.

Last Monday night during my close a woman was sick to
her stomach. Of course she never made it to the bathroom.
The closing supe said, "people come to Borders to puke,
I've seen it before". And he gave some examples. In fact,
the woman's male companion had an empty bag all prepared
for her. I guess the street wasn't good enough. I got the
woman to the bathroom and she was feeling faint ~ more
paramedics, bless them.

So, sweet potato casserole tomorrow, to settle your stomach.

Friday, November 28, 2008

shut-in on Thanksgiving

I didn't leave the house until 4:45 yesterday, when we went over
to Neti and Frank's for dinner. Another couple too, so six of
us ate too much. It was pleasant and I must say I was relieved
not to be doing the BIG DEAL Thanksgiving this year. I think
we just needed a break, so here is how I spent my day:
  • wrote emails, the blog and Round Robin piece
  • cleaned the bathroom and bitched about it, as usual
  • prepared sweet potato casserole for last night
  • ate croissants with Husbando at 10am (the ones from Costco are almost as good as Paris!)
  • phone calls with friends and family
  • espresso, pecan pie and whipped cream for lunch
  • I did the dishes (usually He does)
  • afternoon spent with Sex And The City movie with derision from Himself, but I think those women are fun and I love the NYC scenes
  • prepared for today at work, Black Friday ~ busy, maybe
The kind of day I really needed ~ quiet, yet productive.
Tomorrow the potato casserole recipe, if you are all exceedingly well behaved and especially loving today to all the retail clerks everywhere.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

One of my favorite poems, despite the many commas and semis.
It seems even more meaningful this year. Happy Thanksgiving!


Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost, green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

Sheenagh Pugh

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

black panther follow-up

One of the odd things about writing a daily thought in this
blog is that I never know what will appeal to readers. Of course
I knew that changing jobs would be a fun little surprise, but
the panther-in-local parks seemed to be a dud as there were
no comments from anyone. Then this wonderful email!
(As an aside, Mary has sent me several photos of Jack,
none of which I can see. Either they won't open, or he is
black against the black sky. Enjoy...)

M.A. - I keep meaning to write you about your panther blog. There are panthers in the backwoods of the south. When I was a little girl growing up in the Obion Creek bottom lands of Western Kentucky, one of my earliest night time memories was the cry of the panther from what we called 'The Bottom". Sometimes it sounded like a baby wailing and other times it sounded like a woman screaming. When I wandered down there alone (forbidden - but I did it all the time) I always tried to be quiet so that I could see one - but I never did. I always imagined it's presence there and felt that there was a particular one that was aware of me. As small girls will do, I felt I had a special tie with this unseen panther and felt it was both a guardian and a threat. Gradually at night when I heard it's call, I felt it was talking to me. My night panther. It became a comfort to me. Later when I learned about totems, I knew in my child's heart that the panther was my totem.
Now I have my small black 'panther' cat that just showed up at my house from down off the mountain in Old Bisbee. The next door neighbors, thinking he was bad luck and an evil spirit (the woman professed to being a white witch), would shoot at him with an air rifle to drive him away. But he kept coming back. I gradually got him to come to me and let me pet him. When I moved from there I realized I couldn't leave him - so on my last trip there I brought a cat carrier and grabbed him up and dumped him in and brought him here.
I named him a simple name - Jack. For some reason he dislikes the camera, and no matter how I try I have only been able to get one decent shot of him. It is attached - along with one of my little desert rescued tabby, Sami.
Now, I'm packing up both him and Sami, and taking them to a cat boarding place down in the Hereford Valley called, Goin' to Grandma's, because neither of them are the kind of cats I can lock up in the house for a week and have somebody come by once a day and feed them - I'd come back to a totally wreck domicile. They will have a little cat 'condo' - with a balcony, no less, that looks out over a large bird enclosure. But I'll still come back to two majorly pissed off cats.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

30 years and it still hurts

We saw Mayor Moscone at the opera the Sunday before he was killed.
What a happy man he was that day, up in his box ~ greeting his
friends, smiling and laughing. I think of him every time we go into
the Opera House.

I was sitting in the dentist chair over in Oakland when the assassinations
occurred. No cell phones then, but Husbando was home and I drove
too quickly back across the bridge, tears flowing. Two great men gone.
Whatever plans we had for that day were canceled. We sat in front of
the TV and I drank too much and continued crying for several days.
One of the worst days of my life and when I hear them playing the
tapes this week, when I see the young Di Fi making her poignant (yet
strong, "I'm in charge") announcements, I well up all over again.

There were so many rumors about the police protecting Dan White and
of course I hated him. But now when I hear his confession, I want to
weep for him too. Three men destroyed. My City, still in mourning...

Monday, November 24, 2008

robins & turkeys

Mistress Jane asked me to write as a Round Robin this week and
it was just what I needed to cleanse my system of all this work
stuff. My partner said it would be OK to use this daily write of
his. For all of you who missed Gov. Palin on TV last week, here
is the talented Dan Heffernan:

Saw something strange and disturbing on the news Thursday night.
It was an interview with Sarah Palin.
(WAIT...there's more!)
It was an interview immediately following her pardon of the Thanksgiving Turkey (who knew that governors do that too? Hopefully, that's the closest she'll ever come to the Presidency) at a turkey farm/death camp somewhere in Alaska.
What was strange and disturbing, in addition to just seeing and listening to the horrendous woman in question, was the backdrop of the interview, not more than twenty feet behind her - some kind of Turkey "processing machine", which, unfortunately for all, was being actively used while she answered the interviewer's questions, all smiling and laughing and full of "goshes" and "oh, you betchas".
(Warning: grisly details follow)
"Processing Machine", of course, is the kinder and gentler translation of, as far as I could discern, a turkey decapitation device, and "actively being used" the light glossing over of some guy with bloody pants shoving full-grown turkeys head first into the thing, while occasionally pausing, in between wrestling with the death throes of 50 pound birds and loading them up, to watch the interview with this unnerving simpleton smile on his face.
Good lord, the humanity, the obliviousness of someone who nearly became our vice president (and one hip replacement surgery gone wrong away from the Presidency itself), the utter lack of empathy in treatment of our food stock...
Will I be able to sit with a smile while my parents serve Thanksgiving dinner this year?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

our 5 year girl

Happy Birthday and congratulations to RR who is five years old.
She had a BIG party in Pumpkinville yesterday and there were
almost as many people as there were dinosaurs. I have a desktop
full of photos here from the Blogmaid and I feel like I was there
celebrating this monumental event with everyone.

Thanks to Mr. and Ms. TGP for my dinner party last
night ~ BBQ steaks, noodles, etc. But the best part is being with
people whom we can talk to about all sorts of things. A wonderful
evening with lovely and loving people. Lucky us!

Work ~ amazingly worry-free at the big box yesterday. Knowing
I'm going PT there as a bookseller takes a whole huge 10 ton
weight off of my shoulders.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

this leap of faith

This is not my eye, nor have I ever believed that this Man Ray photo
features real tears. I know real tears.

Thanks for the responses yesterday. It was an emotional day at the
big box. I have been there 8 years and before this I was at B&N for
8 years. There's something going on eight-wise with me.

Isn't it funny? The moment I headed into lame duck status I started
cleaning out my desk (mentally) and counting how many more 6am
Saturdays like today I have left. There are things coming up in
future weeks that I don't have to worry about, and I'm not. My
boss was great, we've worked together for about 6 years and of
course I kept him advised of my plans so as not to surprise him.
"No one can replace you", he keeps saying. Very sweet.

De new boss is not a stranger and that explains why it was so
easy to attach myself to the de Young. Our "interview" consisted
of, "whatever happened to so-and-so?" and "when can you start?"

Funny, I had a good night's sleep last night ~ first time in many
weeks. That says something, doesn't it?

Friday, November 21, 2008

de new big box

Yesterday I accepted a job working in the retail world at the
gorgeous de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. I start in two
weeks and am nervous and excited. My current boss has been
aware that I will be stepping down from my management position
and I hope to be able to still work there as a bookseller a couple of
days a week. My goal is to snag a rare full-time position at the
de Young, but that is going to take awhile, I fear.

In these turbulent times I feel fortunate to have found this job,
even if it's less money and more standing on my feet. I love the
atmosphere in the museum and that is so important to me.
Even if we can all do what we have to do, it makes a huge
difference to work in pleasant surroundings.

So this morning I am studying the Muni map and composing
my letter of resignation. I'm in full-fret mode currently, but I
somehow know that everything will work out. Husbando is
100% behind this move and that helps immensely.

There, a bit of a shocker, no?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

the air she be spared

(this is a generic empty fireplace, not ours)
The fog rolled back in on Tuesday afternoon, much to my relief.
Finally, winter in Frisco. Yesterday morning I suggested to Husbando
that we have our first fire of the season last night and he agreed
that it was time, especially since we had our chimney cleaned during
the 7 year casa re-mo project.

When I returned from my yoga around noon there was email from
my good friends at Spare the Air that we would be breaking the new
law if we were to have a fire before noon today. I had signed up for
this service because we don't want a fine, but I was hoping that their
schedule would somehow work around ours. No such luck. I'm all
for clean air, but really, I need a fireplace to soothe my jangled
nerves and warm my icey toes. OK, I got to vent, I'm on board with
the new fireplace rule, really.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

but it is rocket science!

Oxford Scholars Name Top Ten Irritating Phrases

What are some of the most annoying phrases in the English language? In a new forthcoming book, A Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare, Oxford researchers list the common phrases that we use incorrectly or just all too excessively:

1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It’s a nightmare
8 - Shouldn’t of
9 - 24/7
10 - It’s not rocket science

Thanks to Mr. Z in the Blue State of Ohio for this list
and of course he included "going forward" in his
subject line because we hear/read that one without
surcease in the big boxes of all sizes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

from inside retail

Everything you've been reading is true ~ there will be no Christmas
this year. The big box has a ton of customers, but they mostly join
us to read books and magazines and spend time on their cell
phones, searching for jobs, I presume. The store looks and feels
busy, but people are not buying. Totals are way down, pressure
is way up. We only hired half as many PT temps (and I think I'm
being generous) as we have in the past. It's discouraging to post
the totals on the grease board at night before leaving the store.
But what the heck, the weather is sunny and beautiful and we
have a big gorgeous tree and an ice skating rink in Union Square.
Hope springs eternal...

Monday, November 17, 2008

the kindness of strangers

Below is a work e-mail that demonstrates to me once again that
big city folk get a bad reputation for not having those "small
town family values" that Ms. Palin (may she RIP) was carrying on about.

Apparently Jessica dropped her wallet on Muni tonight and some kind stranger retrieved it, figured out that she worked here, and even went out of their way to bring it in. I called her and left a voice mail letting her know that it's here. It is in the top safe in the basement. You can't miss it.

One time Husbando fainted going down some BART stairs.
I was with him, thankfully, but about 35 people of all ages and
races rushed to help us ~ cell phones out and 911 already called.
All the doctors could find to say was "it happens", but after that
experience I never feel alone in the crowds of my city.

P.S. Jessica's money and Muni pass? Intact.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

a night in east germany

Husbando treated a few of us to dinner here last night at this restaurant
with the name that no one can pronounce. We had a gala time, even
though it was still HOT in the city and at the last moment I had to change
outfits and drag out something in bright summer colors and you know
how that can throw a woman into a tizzy. Walzwerk is on South Van
Ness between 14th and 15th Streets, right across from where Neti and
I both had tires replaced at various times in our lives. Easy parking.

It is a tiny place and feels like Europe with ultra casual decor and mis-
matched china. The food is reasonable and abundant, however. Oh, and
excellent, if you like pork, sausage, herring in sour cream, spitzel and
snictchel and pardon my spelling. Amazing that there were people
waiting for tables during this recession, but we all need a few treats
from time to time, no? Wonderful friendly service, too.

I took a photo of Husbando's plate with sausage and sauerkraut, but
it looked disgusting this morning. Sorry about that...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

gentle needlepoint statement

Today is my and Dancing Jen made this loving piece for me. I also
have some wonderful cards, and the camera missed the one from Ginger
in Santa Barbara with the dachshund in pearls. This is, of course, a nasty
numbered year, but it does not end in zero or five, so I'll slide through.
I will say, without sounding too philosophical, that I never thought I'd
be this age and still going through all this work worry and nonsense.
Nor that I'd lose so much money in my 401(k), nor that I'd be so damn
happy and content. Who knew?
This is from Husbando. It had a red ribbon on it. I will be sanding the
back deck after the rainy season, it appears. We will NEVER have a
work person around our casa verde again. Ever.

Tonight dinner with friends. I will say it again ~ I am indeed blessed
and I thank you all from the bottom of my little black heart.

Friday, November 14, 2008

out of africa?

From yesterday's Chronny ~ we love stuff like this:

The sudden rash of "black panther sightings" this fall at Bay Area parks has given new spark to the region's greatest wildlife mystery:

Are the sightings cases of mistaken identity, as wildlife scientists believe?

Or is there another explanation?

Scientists say they have no proof of black panthers in the region.

"I really think that most of the black cat sightings are either house cats or occasionally where someone saw a mountain lion in bad lighting," said Steve Bobzian, a wildlife biologist for 14 years with the East Bay Regional Park District, where most of the reported sightings have occurred.

"I've had people send photos of what people thought were mountain lions, and they ended up being bobcats, house cats, and one time a fox, another time a coyote," Bobzian said.

One thing for certain is that hikers are seeing something out there that is unexplained. From the perspective of a scientist, here are the different rationales for the sightings:

-- Black panther: The definition of a black panther is that it is a melanistic leopard, that is, a condition that could cause it to be born with black hair. This occurs very rarely in Africa and China. There's no explanation for how a family of them could end up in the East Bay foothills.

-- Black mountain lion: According to the reports, the size and appearance of "black panthers" look exactly like black mountain lions. But according to mountain lion specialists at the Department of Fish and Game, scientists have never encountered such a thing in more than 12,000 cases in North America. "If you look at all the pelts that are out there, nobody has even one mountain lion pelt that looks black," Bobzian said.

-- Black bobcat: There are many verifiable cases of jet black bobcats in the wild, including in the East Bay foothills. The problem with this, however, is size. Recent reports describe the animals as typically about 4 1/2 feet long, 100 to 150 pounds, with long, swaying tails, consistent with the appearance of a mountain lion. Most bobcats are only about 2 to 3 feet long, 20 pounds, with short "bobbed" tails. "You do have black bobcats out there," Bobzian said. "About 30 to 40 percent of people reporting mountain lions turn out to be seeing bobcats. We know this from images we're provided where we can pick out characteristics. We just had one on Monday at Las Trampas, where a person thought they'd seen 'The Missing Lynx.' Turned out to be a bobcat."

-- Black jaguar: Photos of a black jaguar look like an exact match to the descriptions of eye-witness accounts of black panthers. The problem is that jaguars live primarily in Central America. One theory is that a wealthy eccentric imported a black jaguar for a personal exotic game farm, and then the animal escaped. But the jaguar would have to be registered and have a state permit. An escape would make big news. And it would not account for multiple sightings in different regions.

-- Black house cats: This past summer, The Chronicle received a photo of a "black panther," which was forwarded to the Department of Fish and Game for expert analysis. After studying it, scientists responded with a clear verdict: "This is a black house cat." Bobzian agreed: "I really think people are seeing house cats most of the time." According to Shelly Lewis of East Bay parks, the rash of sightings of black panthers at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness was "a story that someone let loose several black cats" about 10 years ago.

Sightings of mountain lions have become far more common than at any time in the past 100 years, Bobzian noted, but even then, are a rare event.

"Just the idea of seeing one, a mountain lion, is a very special event," Bobzian said. "I know wildlife biologists who have spent their entire career outdoors and have never seen a mountain lion. They are people right here in this park district who are out all the time and who have never seen one. A big shift in the outdoors is that a lot of people are very happy to see a mountain lion and they want to tell somebody about it."

Bobzian said he has seen eight mountain lions in his career, most recently at the Sunol-Ohlone Wilderness and Brushy Peak Regional Preserve near Livermore.

Seeing is believing

Accounts of recent sightings:

Once fooled, twice right: "People seem to think I'm 'crazy' when I told them today, that I've seen this big black cat that was not a housecat: approximately four feet long or so without the tail, jet black, very beautiful and sleek. I have this big ridge, part of Miller-Knox Park, right in front of my house. Every morning I hike it up to Point Richmond and walk back on the middle-level ridge trails. The first time I saw it I only got a glimpse of it from the side. I saw something black run past me. When I turned my head I just saw the back. I immediately had the thought 'mountain lion' and then immediately thought 'Nah, they don't have mountain lions here' and 'mountain lions are brown.' I thought that it's maybe a dog or maybe a deer that looked very dark. Talked myself into thinking that it must have been some kind of black deer. This morning around 8.30 a.m. or so, when I was walking in a little canyon I saw it again. No questions, a big black cat, no housecat, but a large cat. Jet black, no other colors."

- Michaela Graham, Richmond

Like a jaguar in the jungle: "I was curious about EBMUD's protected watershed off Redwood Road in Castro Valley, so I obtained a permit and checked it out . . . I decided to navigate into the gully, walked maybe 30 or 40 feet to the east and suddenly found myself locked eyes with this big black cat. It was roughly 50 feet from me, through several barriers of logs and overgrowth. The first thought is that it looked like a panther, but the weird thing is that sort of animal should be in Africa, not the East Bay. It was so out of place.

- Larz Sherer, Berkeley

Point Reyes surprise: "We came up a short rise through a grassy swale (near Tomales Point), and then, looking up, saw a large, jet-black mountain lion calmly sitting, eyes half asleep looking out at us from about 30 yards away. This lion was not darkish, not a brownish-tawny like some I've seen since, but jet black. My friend (Burke Richardson) and I stood there, stunned. It then started to slink away from us in a large semi-circle, attempting to hide in the grass. We were sadly without a camera, which was not like us at all, but, oh well."

- John Balawejder, Santa Cruz

Best-chance parks

Animals resembling "black panthers" or black mountain lions have been reported at these parks and watershed lands in the Bay Area:

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, San Ramon: Black panther sightings are higher at Las Trampas than any other park in the Bay Area; shocked hikers occasionally show up at the adjacent Las Trampas Stables and tell their tale. The park has ideal habitat for mountain lions, with water (Bollinger Creek), space (5,430 acres plus miles of adjoining EBMUD land) and food (lots of deer and squirrels).

Info: (888) 327-2757, option 3, ext. 4537;

Pierce Ranch, Point Reyes National Seashore: The swath of land from Pierce Ranch to Tomales Point provides the best wildlife viewing in California, home for more than 500 elk, along with deer, foxes, bobcats and mountain lions. Wildlife thrives across the park's 71,000 acres, with plenty of food, water and protection. The best of it is at Pierce Ranch. From the ridgeline, you also get sweeping views of Tomales Bay to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Note: In one two-hour sequence near the water hole at Pierce Ranch, I counted 13 elk, six deer, three rabbits and a fox, and a week later on a return trip, saw a mountain lion and 200 elk.

Info: (415)464-5100;

Sunol Regional Wilderness, Sunol: Sunol is at the center of an extensive stretch of hilly wild lands. The park covers 6,800 acres, but is surrounded by other parks and watershed lands that encompass more than 50,000 acres. A high density of ground squirrels provides food for the large numbers of golden eagles that spend the winter here. Mountain lions are occasionally spotted above the rim of Little Yosemite by hikers heading out to see the waterfalls on the headwaters of Alameda Creek.

Info: (888) 327-2757, option 3, ext. 4559;

Chabot Regional Park/EBMUD watershed, Alameda County: These adjoining parcels, split by Redwood Road, provide ideal mountain lion habitat and lots of deer. Chabot spans more than 5,000 acres and features gorgeous Grass Valley, eucalyptus forest and adjacent Lake Chabot. East Bay MUD lands here are stunning, with pristine Redwood Creek feeding into huge Upper San Leandro Reservoir.

Note: When the sloped meadow in Grass Valley sprouts fresh growth from winter rains, you can often spot deer browsing in the early morning. Where you find deer, you have a chance to find the critters that eat them.

Info: (888) 327-2757, option 3, ext. 4502;; trail use permits required for EBMUD watershed at (925) 254-3778; form available online at - click on services/recreation.

Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline, Martinez: This park covers 1,415 acres of hills, bluffs and waterfront along Carquinez Strait. There's a great shoreline bike ride here, but better yet is the trek up to Franklin Ridge; at an elevation of 750 feet it provides sweeping views of the lower delta.

Note: On one exploration here I came across a herd of goats, including some that looked like unicorns with horns sticking out of their foreheads. You couldn't ask for better bait for mountain lions.

Info: (888) 327-2757, option 3, ext. 4514;

Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline, Richmond: Some might be surprised that this park is on the list. That is because it's best known for its gorgeous swimming cove, Keller Beach, located in a protected area at the north end of the shoreline. From here, the wildlands extend north to Point Pinole, an area where mountain lions have been verified multiple times. The park also extends into the Richmond hills, with a ridge connecting to excellent wildlife habitat.

Info: (888) 327-2757, option 3, ext. 4544;

- Tom Stienstra

Tom Stienstra's Outdoors Report can be heard Saturdays on KCBS (740 AM) and FM 106.9 at 7:35 a.m., 9:35 a.m. and 12:35 p.m. E-mail Tom Stienstra at

Thursday, November 13, 2008

from paul madonna

click to enlarge
I missed this election special earlier, but he was kind enough to send
it to me in an email this morning. His All Over Coffee continues to
be one of our top-selling books and he reports that the response to
the above has been overwhelming and Paul now has it for sale.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

meet aravind adiga

He recently won The Man Booker Prize for his debut (!) novel
The White Tiger. You will remember that I have suggested
many times that you can't go wrong with any Booker award
winner. This is an outstanding book and already in paperback,
so grab it and learn all about India today. "Blazingly savage
and brilliant", a reviewer even more qualified than I said. And,
of yes, it is funny indeed. My sofa day off is set...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ladder-free living

Our house painter and 3rd roommate removed all the ladders yesterday,
right before I called the sanitarium to book a room. Here is a before
look ~ back in ought 2 as I recall...
This is the side of the house, "next to Walt's". Walt died a few years
ago, but that's another story. (Back of the house, but you knew that.)
Here we are next to Walt's this morning. Lovely, no?
And here is the back of the house, right above the deck. The City that
we love is reflected in the background. It is gorgeous and our long
local nightmare is almost over. We only have the front porch left ~
new slate that we purchased yesterday. A day long job for some, but
errrrr, uhhhhh, I'll get back to you on that. Oh, drat, I didn't get the
new steps in this photo ~ but they are there and you'll see them
later. I don't want to spoil you.

The back deck needs to be sanded. In a state of lunacy we had it
painted and it is peeling and ugly. But after the rains, I am going to
buy or rent a sander and get it back to its nice plain wood look.
That should be worth a blog post or 23.

Now, I know you have a few questions:
1) did this take longer than was planned?
2) did it cost more than we thought?

I'll leave you hanging on those...

Monday, November 10, 2008

two for the record

As you know, this blog serves as a diary, so I need to report that
we watched this Out Of Sight last night and I just wrote the
blogmaid that the plot makes opera look realistic. It's basically
a "wake-me-when-it's-over" film, but it did get good reviews.
Why? Husbando and I blamed each other for the fact that it was
in the Flix® queue. We did not finish watching it...
Find Me Guilty is about the big mafia trial back in (I think) the
70's. We both thought this was entertaining and although not
one Kleenex® was harmed, it is an interesting movie that is
really more about loyalty and friendship than about crime.
This was our Saturday night date movie.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

sunday morning book talk

I finished The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo last night. It will be
a great gift for the mystery book lovers on your holiday list. I had
heard it was a good one, but then The Fevered Brain recommended
it, so I spent some valuable sofa time reading this on my weekend.
Takes place in Sweden, that in itself makes it unusual. Featuring
not one, but two very strong sheroes and one compassionate man.

Our two best-selling books this week at the big box?
  • Dreams From My Father
  • The Audacity of Hope
My already happy little liberal heart is warmed all over again.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

friends from red & blue states

Here we have Mary from Bisbee, Arizona ~ a pocket of blue in
McCain's red state:
Well Folks - what a surprising trip this election has been!
As a matter of course, I despise and distrust politics and I hated the debates - but out of civic duty, I began to watch the campaigning out on the trails during the daytime - they have to fill up 24 hours on CNN and CSPAN somehow!
Then - surprise - I began to enjoy the whole thing - --Crazy Joe Biden sent out to the boondocks of Pennsylvania and Virginia to do his semi-tourettes bits, ranting about his love for guns and dogs; Obama, reminding me of a highschool history teacher that only half the class listens to, getting elegantly and passionately lyrical at times, exhorting us to moral battle; that aged epic hero, McCain, wandering the stages, lapsing into fits of PTSD like an old war dog; and finally, Sarah Palin, ranging somewhere between childhood memories of that uptight sunday school teacher who cheerfully slapped you if you put anything on top of your Bible and the popular small town homecoming queen who was secretly screwing a couple of boys and several prominent men in town........
What a show!
I had a chili and cornbread gathering at my house for some friends who didn't have a T.V. (by choice) but wanted to watch election night.
We switched over to comedy central in time to see Steve Colbert announce the president elect. "A Hawaiian is president!"
Such Fun!
A great time out here in the Mule Mountains.

And now from Mr. Z who moved to Ohio from Berkeley several months ago:
Yep, Ohio turned blue, all right. I *knew* that if we just held our
breath long enough it would happen.
I got to see Obama (and Bruce Springsteen) live on Sunday, and
attended the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party celebration Tuesday
night. It was incredible. I'm uploading some video of it to YouTube
right now.

Friday, November 07, 2008

tea and tiapos

I met Gini for lunch here at 18th and Sanchez and was impressed.
Samovar features murky flavorful tea, thick sandwiches and yummy
scones. They use unusual serving dishes and the waiter was a former
big box employee, so we had lots of good attention. I like the
atmosphere ~ filled with people, laughter and laptops. Are all
these people successful writers? Why aren't they working at 2 pm
on a Thursday afternoon?

Six of us at Tiapos and here is the report for TGP who is in NYC:
  • Karen ~ her sister was undecided until the last moment, then voted for McCain. Ick.
  • Chef P ~ text from her niece, was it racist? Family turmoil, tears. She is writing a cookbook and got a nice check from Viking Press. Hooooray!
  • Will ~ continues with his trip from Provincetown. Tries to stop time by removing all the batteries from clocks back there.
  • Eric ~ starts finally to write about his sister and his parents. Great.
  • Mistress J ~ two little only-our-Jane poetic and lovely pieces
  • Me ~ my Comfort Zone and why/when/how will I get out of it? The highest form of Tiapos flattery when Eric wanted to take it home with him.
Wonderful time because laughter and tears cleanse our sinuses and unclog our arteries. Don't they?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

a little night magic

Husbando purchased two cheapo rush tickets yesterday morning for
Row O at the opera last night. $30 each ~ sweet. This is a silly little
romantic opera, but beautiful, and not one long drawn-out death
scene. There is a young tenor named Ramon Vargas who was Nemorino,
a sort of dufus guy-in-love, and he has the most spectacular voice.
The Elixir of Love turns out to be cheap wine, I hope that doesn't
ruin the complicated plot for anyone. Although I know way too little
about opera, this was a delightful evening for both of us, proving
once again that opera should be for everyone.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

proud to be an American (again)

What a wonderful night. Here is what I want to remember:
  • the quiet, happy crowds in Chicago, NYC and at the White House
  • Jon Stewart telling us that Obama is our next President
  • we get a new puppy in the White House
  • Anderson Cooper asking, "why do we pay for these?" when for the umpteenth time one of the pundits said, "you can't believe these exit polls"
  • that beautiful acceptance speech
  • Jesse Jackson's tears
  • hearing that Pennsylvania was "ours"
  • waiting for the polls to close on the West Coast so victory could be announced
  • McCain's nice speech and the few nasty boos from his audience
  • the way Obama thanked all the people who ran his amazing campaign
And now for the world reaction. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

tuesday with many topics

First we have RR (and pony) and her imposing new friend whom I
have named Ugly-as-Sin, but that's just my November Negativity.
I'm sure the blogmaid can help you find your own dino, if anyone out
there is interested.

I'm off today. How can anyone concentrate on work on a day like
this? I requested this day about 2 months ago when I started becoming
obsessed with the future of our country and world. Of course we
already voted by mail, but I want to see the Talking Heads, especially
Jon Stewart and Colbert who have a special tonight. One needs to
be rested and refreshed for a night of TV. We were invited to a party
but I don't want to be social when I can be in my elegant sweat suit
with a TV tray on my lap.

The sunshine has returned! Maybe our painter will do the same.
Husbando calls our kitchen "the blue grotto" and our jokes about
the holidays with ladder accessories are not as funny as they
once were.

Writing. What's that? I do plan to do some on my 3-day weekend.
And reading, walking, napping. But first ~ blueberries!

Let's hope we can all celebrate with our Obama victory tomorrow.

Monday, November 03, 2008

life, death and in between

We went to ACT last night for The Quality of Life by playwright
Jane Anderson, who also directed this most satisfying play
with only 4 actors, each of them in top form. One basic Christian
couple from Ohio (Iowa?) and the other living in a yurt (!) in
Northern California. The two women are cousins and could be
friends, but their differences are great even though their pain
is similar. There is a lot of humor, yet I was forced to graduate
to the large handkerchief of Husbando towards the end of this
play. It was a thoroughly gut-wrenching evening ~ perfect.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

of all things

I know, I don't seem the type, but Iron Man is a lot of fun to watch,
except for the typical "let's-get-the-10-year-old-boys-involved" scenes
of fires and explosions. Of course Robert Downey Jr. is excellent,
but Jeff Bridges did a fine job too. A welcome break from the fires and
explosions of last minute election night speeches.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

am I blue?

This is the view from our kitchen window. We are on the last leg of
this endless journey, but of course no work gets done when it rains.
For my out-of-frisco readers, the rainy season is here.
This is our spare refrigerator in the basement. Our painter likes
his beer which we provide. Those are his paint brushes and then
we have just enough room for that melon and some root beer.
These are the times that try the soul of an otherwise ebullient
and exceedingly tolerant woman.